Penguins-Canadiens Game Day (Game 5)
Saturday, 05.8.2010 / 10:20 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
The major news from Pittsburgh's Game 5 morning skate is that Bill Guerin is back in the lineup. See 11:08 AM entry for details.
Sounds from the Montreal locker room:
On Andrei Markov traveling to Pittsburgh:
Andrei, and the same with Paul Mara, we have all our medical staff traveling in the playoffs. There is nobody behind. So to continue treatments, that’s why he’s on the trip.
On Jaroslav Spacek:
Still not quite ready but he’s progressing.
On the mood of the Canadiens:
I think our players are enjoying the competition. They’re enjoying the challenge. There’s a good mood. When we started the playoffs we knew we were facing a big challenge in Washington, but we had a pretty good record against them during the season. Our goals against was better then their. Our special teams, they were the first power play, we were second. Our penalty killing was better. There were some facets of the game that gave us some confidence. It was a matter of playing within our limitations. This series, (Pittsburgh) had a better record than us in the regular season. It’s a huge challenge because they’re the Stanley Cup champions. They have great players – Crosby, Malkin – when you have to play against players like that it’s an inner motivation. You look forward to that challenge to play against people like and against the Stanley Cup champions. I think our guys have responded well. We know we have to be better. We know tonight is huge. We know this team is going to come out with all guns. We have to be prepared for that.
On how the PK has bounced back after Game 1:
The guys on it are pretty committed and are willing to do what it takes, like blocking shots and some of the gritty stuff that it takes to kill penalties. I think our group has always done a good job with that, as far as attention to detail, adapting, changing and being ready. It’s a combination of a few things.
On wanting to get more shots:
We’d like to get as many chances as we can on Fleury, as many pucks as we can. We’d like to do it more and more. I feel like a broken record, every game saying the same thing. We’re working on it. We’re trying to get there. The more we can get at him, the better.
On matching Pittsburgh’s desperation:
We play with a lot of intensity and we all care in this room. We’re ready for that challenge. If anything it’s kind of the opposite. They have that desperation. They’re supposed to win. For us we can go play as hard as we can and try to play a really good game.
On what winning Game 5 would mean:
A win tonight is huge for us, just as it would be for him. You always want to win that next game. We had a good third period (in Game 4) and we would like to carry that over to Game 5.
On generating more offense:
We can’t play the waiting game. We have to initiate at times and try to have more of a consistent effort. That would be forechecking hard and playing in their end. That would be our best defense. We don’t have to be pretty – we just have to make the plays.
On what the Canadiens have done on the penalty kill:
It is something we talk about every day with the coaches. We talk in the locker room about what we want to take away. They add little wrinkles every time so it is tough. Obviously goaltending is huge. We are trying to take away as much as we can. That is not an easy job with the power play they have. They have a lot of weapons and they use them.
On Guerin getting back in:
He is a solid player who has a big shot. We have to be aware when he is out there. Sid (Crosby) uses him well. We have to be aware of where he is. That goes for the whole team – they have a lot of players like him that are good at their individual skill. Billy gets to the next and creates traffic. We just have to be aware of it.
On defending the Penguins:
Obviously you are aware of the guys who are high-end talent guys. At the same time, they have so much depth that your focus is always on team defense.
On playing well despite missing two of their top defensemen:
One thing that is a given in the playoffs is obstacles. We are missing two key guys but others have stepped up. PK (Subban) has been fantastic at times. It’s team defense for a reason. That is why everyone has to do their part.
On Ryan O’Byrne:
He has been fantastic. He plays physically and is a huge presence back there.
On Gill and Gorges:
They have been getting the recognition for a job well done. It’s so key at this time of the year to have guys who are difference makers at both ends of the rink. In our end that is what they do.
On missing some of their top defenders due to injury:
I think that has kind of been the story on this team all year long. We have faced a lot of adversity. Guys have stepped up and risen to the challenge. There are a lot of character guys on this team. When someone goes down we always seem to have someone step up and fill their void. Yeah it is a little bit shocking to see how we have done but at the same time it is not because we have a lot of depth.
On Halak frustrating opponents:
I don’t know how they are thinking on their side. Obviously it is frustrating when you can’t score. I don’t care who you are. I think when you are facing a goalie who is standing on his head it can wear on you. They are trying to find different ways to score. Jaroslav has been playing wonderful and he needs to keep playing that same way if we want to be successful.
On generating more offense:
I think we have more to give offensively. I think when we do get the puck we have to be more aggressive. We can’t worry about making mistakes and turning pucks over. We have to make plays and have confidence in each other. At the same time you have to give them credit as well. I think they do a great job defensively. They are standing up and making it tough for us. They know what it takes and how to win. We just have to keep sticking to what we know works and push the pace a little bit more and be more aggressive in the offensive zone.
Near the end of practice Montreal's Marc-Andre Bergeron broke a pane of glass on a missed shot behind the net.
The Canadiens completed their morning skate. The only major news was that Andrei Markov made the trip to Pittsburgh to continue his rehab and Jaroslav Spacek is still not ready to play.
Scott Gomez (left); Josh Gorges (right)
Head coach Jacques Martin at center ice (left)
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On the return of Bill Guerin to the lineup:
In the majority of the times, he is the net front presence on the power play. The line of 13 (Bill Guerin), 14 (Chris Kunitz) and 87 (Sidney Crosby) has been a productive one, probably the most productive line for us throughout the year and in the playoffs. Bill Guerin has been a playoff performer for us and a big guy with a shot that adds to that top line and the power play. He’ll be a good addition tonight.
On Mike Rupp’s performance in the playoffs:
Mike is a guy who, all year long, has added a physical grit element to our team. He has done that in the playoffs repeatedly with his four or five hits in the stat sheet column. He is a presence in that area, and he is a tough guy to handle when he’s in and around the net and down low. That’s part of what our team is made of. There is a lot of talk about Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, but there is a grit and physical element to our team that we need to bring in a series like this. We have a number of good players, so it’s not so much a situation where we subtract Mike Rupp. That’s what we would have if he was in.
On deciding how to make his lines:
It all depends on what the line might be called upon to do. If you’re playing with Evgeni Malkin, it’s a little bit different than if you’re playing with Jordan Staal with the matchup situations. There are some different things that you think about when you make the lines. The element of our team is that we want to be a fast team execution-wise in the neutral zone. Speed is also an element, and some of that is puck execution and not just skating. Offensive zone presence is also a big factor with puck protection and a physical, grinding down nature. That can come in Chris Connor with speed, quickness and coming to the offensive zone. It can also mean Mike Rupp being more physical in nature. The luxury for our team is that a guy like Mike Rupp can play and has played on a second line for shifts at a time, and he added a significant portion to Evgeni Malkin’s line. He is a different player than what Chris Connor might be, but he still adds to what that line needs and what we’re trying to do as a team. Bill Guerin on a line like that, while he doesn’t add a ton of speed – I hope that he chuckles over that – he does add execution to it, and he does have a presence in the offensive zone with a net front presence and a shot presence that is dangerous in the offensive zone. You can look for different elements like speed, physicality and execution level that allow the team to play the way that it needs to play and allows lines to fulfill the roles that they’re in during that particular game.
On his philosophy concerning forwards like Evgeni Malkin playing the point:
Our coaching staff talks about what we want in a power play. Movement and motion is a big thing for our group, and Mike Yeo works a lot with the group on providing that movement and motion. That’s going to mean that we have players – 71 (Evgeni Malkin) and 87 (Sidney Crosby) – who come up and appear to play in the point position. I like forwards back on the point. I think that they provide a different element and mentality than defensemen who are back there with the skill level that you talk about with Malkin. He has the ability to do different things back there than maybe Alex Goligoski or Kris Letang. We rotate it to get him up there to create movement and motion, and we get 87 up there. It also sometimes draws defensemen away from the front of the net, which we try to exploit and do. To see Evgeni up there and to see Crosby up there, it’s not an uncomfortable situation for them. We practice them in those situations, and that’s something that Mike Yeo and the power play continue to try to work on. There is not a deterrent, because there is a defensive liability. I don’t think that’s the case at all. It does provide a dangerous weapon up at the top of the box in the power play.
On how he feels:
I feel great. At least six or seven people have asked me how I feel, so everything is good. I feel great. It was just something that sidelined me for a little while, but I’m 100 percent. I feel as good as I can.
On what he wants to bring to the game tonight:
I just want to keep playing that way that we have been playing. I want to drive to the net and get in front. Just like everybody else, I want to play well in our own end and just contribute. We’re playing a solid team game right now, and there’s no reason for us to change anything. I’m just going to try to pick up where I left off.
On Montreal’s resiliency throughout the series:
They’re a good hockey team. They proved that last round. They proved that all year. They have good players. They have a good coach. They play a strong defensive system, and they believe in it. This is a seven-game series. Nobody is entitled to winning four and getting out. We have been ready for this, and we’re prepared for it.
On the Penguins power play:
We’re not OK with not getting the goals. We obviously want to score on every power play. That’s the objective. More importantly, you’re not always going to score on every power play, but you can’t let the power play be a downer. It has to create momentum for your team. If you show frustration or you have bad body language, it’s going to hurt your bench. We don’t want to do that. We want to make sure that it gets momentum for us and uplifts our team. My job is simple – to get loose pucks and try to create traffic and shoot. That’s it.
On if the power play has been lacking as a result of him not being in the lineup:
Kuni (Chris Kunitz) is a little bit shorter, but his butt is just as big as mine. I think that he has been doing a heck of a job. We have a bunch of guys who fill in nicely. I’m just anxious to get back in there and get the opportunities again.
On if he feels able to handle his usual workload:
I’m 100 percent. I’m normal. I’m able to continue with my full workload, and I’m looking forward to it.
On how his leadership changes as the series comes to an end:
I really don’t think that my role changes at all. I don’t think that anybody’s does. It’s not the time to stand up and give a speech or anything like that. We’re just getting prepared for Game 5. We have played great hockey this series. Montreal has played great hockey this series. This is a good hockey series. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. It’s a good series, and this is what happens. Sometimes you’re tied 2-2. We’re not entitled to win four games in a row, and neither are they. You have to play the games and see how they turn out.
On getting in Jaroslav Halak’s face tonight:
I drive the net. I drive to stay in front when I can. I think that there has been a lot of coverage on the Vancouver/Chicago series with the goaltender stuff. That’s what’s going on in that series, but we have to play our game. We don’t want to just start focusing on Halak. Although he has played great, that can’t be our main focus. We’re not going to try to figure this guy out. He’s playing good hockey, and that’s it.
On the importance of not going back to Montreal trailing in the series:
It’s pretty important. We know how they play there. We know what type of atmosphere it is there for that team and how they feed off of it. This is a big game for us. This is a big game for them, too.
On the importance of home ice advantage:
I think that we have to establish ourselves a little bit better on home ice this year. Tonight is an opportunity for that, and we’ll see how it goes.
On being out of the lineup recently due to his injury:
It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done so that I could try to be back as soon as I could. No one in the playoffs feels 100 percent. It’s part of the playoffs. It’s part of playing through things. It’s the way that it goes.
On playing in Tuesday’s game:
All throughout the game, my foot was being massaged and stuff like that. It didn’t feel too nice.
On if he expected to return to the game so soon:
I didn’t know what was going to happen. Obviously, I haven’t been through a tear like that or otherwise I would have known. I just wanted to get back as soon as I could. I didn’t really have a goal, but I just tried to get back as fast as I could.
On Bill Guerin’s return to the lineup tonight:
Billy has that experience, and he has that way to calm some players down and keep our team focused. He’s a great shooter. He does little things right, and I’m glad to have him back in the lineup.
On the team’s mentality going into Game 5:
We are going to try to stick with our game. We know what works best. Whether or not it happens every night, we’re going to stick with our game plan, and that’s what we’re going to do tonight.
On learning from his past experiences in the Finals:
We have to have that mentality of taking the opportunities when they come, and tonight is a big opportunity for us to get ahead. It’s going to be a big challenge and a tough battle. Whether or not we win, we just have to keep moving forward.
On his inability to score in recent games:
Those things happen. You can’t score in every game. As much as you would like to, there are times when it is tougher. There are times when you don’t get the bounces. During those times, that’s when you have to bear down and keep doing the right things. Eventually it will go in.
On the importance of not going back to Montreal trailing in the series:
I guess that you could say for both teams that nobody wants to lose tonight. Either way that you look at it, we’re going to have to win a game in Montreal. We have to go back there either way. We’re going back there hopefully to win a game. We want to make sure that we get this one. It’s a great opportunity for us to be home in a big game like this. Certainly it’s an important game.
On handling the emotional highs and lows of playoff hockey:
You just have to focus on your game. You can’t get too caught up in other things. You have to know what your game looks like and be honest with yourself. I think that you also have to be honest with your team. If you’re doing good things and you’re creating things – there are always going to be little adjustments and little mistakes, but if you know what you’re game looks like and you’re confident in it then you have to make sure that you stick with it.
On if the team has always known what its game looks like:
I think that there has always been a confidence in everybody and a trust there that when the time comes and when it’s important, everybody is going to do their job. That’s something that is built. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I think that the trust is there for sure. It’s important.
On why Montreal is able to win games on the road:
If we could put our finger on it, we’d probably close them out a lot here. I don’t know if there is any specific reason or if it’s a coincidence. When you’re playing a team with their back against the wall like that, they’re desperate. More times than not, you see them rebound, and you see teams come back. There is pretty good evidence of that this year in the playoffs already. There is always that extra desperation with teams that are against the wall, and you have to be able to match that.
On having Jordan Staal back:
It’s great to have him back. I didn’t expect to have him back this soon. Nobody really knew what to think. It was kind of an unusual injury, but he’s back. It’s great to have him back.
On Bill Guerin being back in the lineup:
I think that he is feeling pretty good by the sounds of things. By looking at him, he looks like he’s at his best now for sure. It’s great. He has a lot of experience, and I’ve played with him for a long time, too. We’ve played together for a couple of years now, so it’s good to have that chemistry. Staalsy (Jordan Staal) is also back, so we have that flow that we’re used to having. It’s good to have everyone back in the lineup.
Assist Caitlin Kasunich and Jason Seidling
It's official. Bill Guerin, who was out for Games 3 and 4, will be back in the lineup for the Penguins in Game 5 at Mellon Arena tonight. The wiley veteran confirmed his return with reports in his locker room stall just a minute ago.
"Guerin has been a playoff performer for us," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's a big guy, a shot, but also a top guy on the power play unit. He'll be a good addition tonight."
Mike Rupp, who missed Game 4, said he was planning on playing tonight in Game 5 but that the decision will be made by the coaching staff.
Bill Guerin (right) skated at Pittsburgh's morning skate
Marc-Andre Fleury (left) makes a save; Evgeni Malkin and Mike Yeo chat (right)
Chris Kunitz (left); Tyler Kennedy (right)
The Penguins are on the ice for their Game 5 morning skate at Mellon Arena. If the line combinations they skated in are any indication, then it looks like Bill Guerin and Mike Rupp, both with undisclosed injuries, will be back in the lineup. Here were the combos: